Nashville shooting timeline: What we know so far
Thu, Mar 30, 2023 5:57 PM
By JOHN RABY, Associated Press
Monday’s shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville unfolded over approximately 15 minutes as a shooter opened fire inside, killing six people, before police arrived and fatally shot the suspect.
Three children and three adults were killed in the shooting at The Covenant School.
Ever since a May 2022 attack inside a classroom in Uvalde, Texas, police response times to school shootings have come under greater scrutiny. In that shooting, 70 minutes passed before law enforcement stormed the classroom.
In Nashville, police said about eight minutes passed from the initial call to when officers arrived at the scene. Within about four minutes after police arrived on campus, the shooter, Audrey Hale, 28, was taken down. Authorities have not yet determined the shooter’s motive. But they said Hale, a former student at the school, did not target specific victims.
Here’s a look at what is known about the shooting and the Nashville police response:
THE SHOOTER'S ARRIVAL
Hale arrived by car in the expansive parking lot Monday, according to a time stamp on edited school surveillance video released by police.
Hale drove past someone who appears to be a maintenance worker standing on a sidewalk, and later children on swings in a playground before parking the vehicle.
Carrying two “assault-style” weapons as well as a handgun, Hale, dressed in camouflage and wearing a vest. shot out glass doors at a side entrance to the school, according to surveillance video time stamps, kicked away remaining shards, ducked under a door crossbar and entered the school.
THE 911 CALLS AND POLICE RESPONSE
Police on Thursday released recordings of three emergency calls about an active shooter. Callers pleaded for help in hushed voices while sirens, crying and gunfire could be heard in the background.
In one, 76-year-old retired church member Tom Pulliam tells the dispatcher he is with a group of people, including several children, who are walking away from the Christian school toward a main road. When the dispatcher requests a description of the shooter, Pulliam asks a second man to get on the line.
“All I saw was a man holding an assault rifle shooting through the door. It was — he’s currently in the second grade hallway, upstairs” the man says.
Asked about how many shots were fired, a woman responds, “I heard about 10, and I left the building.”
In another call, a woman tells a dispatcher that she can hear a pause in the gunshots from her hiding spot in an art room closet. The teacher then says she can hear more gunshots, begging the dispatcher, “Please hurry.”
Another caller says he is in a second-floor room, believes the shooter is on the second floor, too, and asks the dispatcher to send help.
As officers responded, there were two immediate, glaring hurdles, according to Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake: Traffic was snarled as police tried to weave their way to the school, and police cars in the parking lot had been hit by gunfire.
SHOTS INSIDE THE SCHOOL
With alarms blaring and the school's emergency lights blinking, Hale walked slowly through a hallway, checked doors and briefly went into an office.
The surveillance video finishes with the shooter far down a hallway, looking to the right where the hallway intersects with another room, and firing shots into the other room.
At the same time, officers arrived on campus, police spokesman Don Aaron said in an email, citing dispatch records.
In a six-minute compilation of bodycam video from two different officers released by police that didn't include time stamps, Officer Rex Engelbert parked his patrol car, opened the trunk and removed a service rifle from a duffel bag. He closed the trunk and walked up to a woman who told him that students were locked down and that people inside had just heard gunshots.
"OK," Engelbert replies in a calm tone. “Yes, ma'am.”
Engelbert and other officers swiftly searched classrooms, holding rifles and announcing themselves as police. The officers went upstairs to the second floor and entered a lobby area, followed by a barrage of gunfire and officers yelling commands.
Officers “engaged” the suspect, Drake said.
Within two minutes of that, the suspect was shot, according to the dispatch records.
Approximately 15 minutes had passed from when Hale shot in the doors, according to the surveillance video and dispatch records. It’s not known exactly when Hale killed the six people.
At another Presbyterian church about 10 minutes away from The Covenant School, a meeting was taking place among area church leaders when news of the shooting quickly spread, said George Grant, a leader with the Nashville Presbytery, which is connected with the private school.
“The first calls came to us at about the same moment that the police were arriving on the property," Grant said.
In a separate blog post Wednesday, Grant said "suddenly, unexpectedly, our deliberations were interrupted by a flurry of calls and texts: there was an active shooter at Covenant’s school facility. We emptied into the hallway ... The Covenant men hurried on their way back to the church. The rest of us began frenzied monitoring of the news while contacting our own flocks and families to mobilize prayer.”
After the shooting, the remaining students who were locked down at the school were ferried to a safe location to be reunited with their parents.
THE HOME SEARCH
During a search of Hale's home after the shooting, investigators found a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other unspecified evidence.
Drake said after Hale's parents were interviewed, it was determined the shooter legally purchased seven firearms from five different local gun stores. Three were used in Monday’s shooting. Drake said.
Hale’s parents were unaware that Hale had obtained most of the weapons. They said they believed Hale had only purchased one gun and had sold it.
Associated Press Religion News Editor Holly Meyer contributed to this report.